Showing posts with label Vanities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vanities. Show all posts

20 November 2016

Blonde Ambition - The Tale of Galina Orloff: Broadway Starlet, Gangster's Girlfriend - Part One

Galina Orloff
Galina Orloff, aka Gay Orlova
aka 'Gay Orlova'
Born Petrograd Russia, 29 January 1915
Died Paris France, 12 February 1948

The stunning Broadway dancer, best known by stage name 'Gay Orlova,' lived a life filled with 'tragic comedy.' Propelled into infamy for her scandalous affair with New York's 'Public Enemy Number 1' during the spring of 1936, Orlova's fairy tale life was only just beginning to unravel. A newsmaker long before the Lucky Luciano affair, and sadly - fodder for gossip columns for some years after, the shapely and sharp-tongued beauty never secured 'true love' and cycled through a series of jobs, lovers, failed marriages that ultimately ended in tragedy.

"Until her meeting in the south with Luciano the shapely Russian was one of
the most popular of the Vanities line and, although Ziegfeld's (Follies) is the more illustrious name, Broadway connoisseurs' rate Carroll as his peer in picking beauties." - Robert Sell, 1939.

Sinai Ship Manifest, 1929.
Galina's life began in an era of turmoil, marked by a world war and a revolution within her homeland.  Her father Sergei died in 1927 and within two years she and her mother Antolina would pack up and move about Europe.  France is where the teenage Orloff developed a love of dance, but mother and daughter were still in transition. America was their chosen destination.  Antonina and Galina (on a student visa) boarded the Sinai in Constantinople on March 17, 1929, and arrived in Rhode Island on April 6. The pair soon settled in Brooklyn, but Galina had no intention of pursing a traditional education in the United States.  Her heart was set on Broadway.

The dream came true. By 1931 Galina Orloff, barely sixteen years old, had adopted a pseudonym, began showing up at casting calls, and caught the attention of producer Earl Carroll. Gay Orlova  landed a role in  Carroll's Vanities, and subsequently drew the attention of entertainment writers who were equally captivated by the catchy name and striking looks. The papers would fawn over her, but with a tinge of snarky mocking. Then again, there's no such thing as 'bad' publicity, or is there? And then there were the would-be suitors that salivated over the lot of seductive starlets. Orlova - a cigar smoking femme fatale - equipped with a larger-than-life personality and charm  - cast a spell upon men of all makes and models, from lowly ushers to highfalutin businessmen. 

"So they delve into the classics and the name books, encyclopedias and probably even dictionaries, to find such nom de theater... The prize winner in this category is Gay Orlova."  - Paul Harrison, 1934.

Charles "Lucky" Luciano, 1936
Orlova had also continued jaunting across the pond from time to time, which presented a potential problem.  She was still in the United States on a student visa, which doesn't last forever.  Desperately trying to avert the possibility of deportation, Orlova hatched a diabolical plan while performing at the Majestic Theater in New York, and it focused with laser accuracy upon one very young, naive theater worker named Edward W. F. Finn.  She had noticed how the nineteen year old usher couldn't keep his eyes off her, and so it began... the showgirl extraordinaire made her move.  Gay Orlova flirted briefly before going in for the kill, ultimately requesting Finn's hand in marriage.  Oh yes, he did indeed say, 'Yes!'

"Lucky's a perfect gentleman and I don't know why they say such mean things about him." - Gay Orlova, 1936. 

Little did young Finn know that his bride-to-be was already the mistress of the man District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey would label, "America's Greatest Gangster."

Continue on to read Part Two -

Cipollini, Christian, Lucky Luciano: Mysterious Tales of a Gangland Legend, Strategic Media Books, 2014, p. 57-69.
Donati, William, Lucky Luciano: The Rise and Fall of a Mob Boss, 
Modiano, Patrick, (translated by Mark Polizzotti), Pedigree: A Memoir, Yale University Press, 2015, p. 13.
Raines, Robert K, Hot Springs: From Capone to Costello, Arcadia Publishing, 2013, p. 56-57.
"Luciano's Ex-Sweetheart Escapes Death as a Spy," The Philadelphia Enquirer, October 24,1939, p. 2
"Another Lucky Escape for Unlucky Lucky's Girl," Albuquerque Journal, December 24, 1939, p. 15.
"Lucky's Dear Friend," The Morning Herald, April 24, 1936, p. 1.
Sell, Robert. “Another Lucky Escape for Unlucky Lucky’s Girl.”
Albuquerque Journal, 1939 24-December: 15.